LORAIN - Trent Jackson, 16, will have his pick of colleges after scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT between his sophomore and junior years at Lorain High School.
"I was very surprised when I got my score back. I was expecting a good score but not a 36 so I was hoping for a 34 and I got my scores back and I had my friend read them to me out loud and I thought he was joking," Trent said. "He showed me the (scores) on my phone and I was like 'Wow! That's awesome!' and I ran around the room for a while."
His mom, Shanna Jackson, also was surprised.
"I figured it would be pretty high also, but I didn't expect perfect," she said.
While his dad, Terry Jackson, had total faith that his son would get the highest score possible.
"I expected perfect. I know he can," he said.
The ACT is a standardized test used by most colleges to determine admission, measuring a high school student's college readiness by testing their knowledge of math, English, science and reading. There is an optional writing portion as well, which Trent did not take.
To prepare, Trent said he took a number of practice tests, first focusing on math, then the rest of the sections. Each practice test took between three and three-and-a-half hours for him to complete.
"I think I took like five practice tests. Pretty much all the ones I could find. And every question that I got wrong, I would look up how to do the question or how to get the right answer next time. So I slowly started building my score up higher and higher."
Later, he added, "I was doing a little bit of just looking up stuff and trying to get ready for a while, but it was the week leading up to the ACT that I really took all the tests and got everything done."
While his parents didn't get to see him take the practice tests, they often saw the results. Shanna Jackson said he would come home and show them, watching the scores climb higher as the test date neared.
Trent took his test in mid-July, after missing the deadline to sign up to take it during his sophomore year, at the urging of his pre-calculus teacher, Stacey Vore.
Now, Trent has bragging rights throughout the school - something he has capitalized on in the months since he got the score back and it was announced to the district.
"I wanted to rub it in my friend's faces and say, 'Yeah, I got a 36 and you didn't.' And that's what I've been doing for the past few months," he said. "It's pretty great. It gets even better when someone else will come up, because they announced it over the school's loud speaker, and someone will go up and say, 'Hey, you're Trent, you got the 36 right?' and my friends all groan in the background."
Moving forward, Trent plans to apply for a NASA internship at the end of his junior year and is looking to study mechanical engineering. While he hasn't chosen any colleges to apply to yet, he's looking at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as it's No. 1 in engineering.
"My hopes are that he never works a day in his life," Terry Jackson said. "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day."
In the meantime, Trent plans to take the SAT, saying while the tests themselves aren't fun, the results are. He will continue his current internship at Nordson and work with the high school's Key Club - when he's not playing video games or soccer.
"I just want him to be happy," Shanna Jackson said. "I'm glad, obviously it's wonderful that he is obviously very smart and is getting recognition for it and for being so awesome, but I just want him to be happy."